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TV as Babysitter: The Cost

Most children spend a lot more time hearing television messages than parental ones. Typically, parents only spend about 40 minutes a week in meaningful conversation with their children. But the average American child watches 28 hours of TV a week.

Today's newborn will see 200,000 acts of violence on television by age 18 -- which is not surprising, since a National Institute of Mental Health study found that 80% of all TV shows contain acts of violence. Also not surprising, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that strong exposure to media mayhem increases aggressive behavior in some kids and desensitizes them to violence.

Every year, the average young viewer will be exposed to more than 14,000 sexual references in TV programs and commercials. Only a tiny fraction of them deal with responsible sexual behavior, abstinence, birth control, or the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Teens watch music videos an average of up to 2 hours a day. Some 75% of these videos have sexually suggestive material and 50% include violence.

Half of kids ages 6-17 have a television in their rooms, which makes it likely that they'll watch more TV. Increased television viewing is a clear factor in the staggering rise of childhood and adult obesity in the U.S.

Kids see some 20,000-40,000 commercials each year. No wonder our toddlers, tikes, tweens, and teens are infected with critical cases of the "gimmes."

For more on kids and the media, go to:

Spice, Silicone, and Sex: What's a Parent to Do?!

Kids and Media: Our Four Favorite Web Sites

Media Management 101: What You Can Do to Combat Media Influences

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Reprinted from The Pocket Change Investor, Issue #27
© 1999, Marc Eisenson & Nancy Castleman
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